Practice of Science was selected as a finalist for
Royal Society Prize for Science Books.
The judges said: “How is science done? This book looks
behind the scenes and tells the story of what makes scientific minds
tick and how scientific theories are made. A fascinating, personal
account – essential reading for anyone with an interest in
science, from pupil to politician.”
Society TV presents a podcast of book readings and discussion
at the Prize for Science Books awards ceremony.
Philosophy of Science and Bioethics
My research program consists of cross-disciplinary
studies at the boundary between science and philosophy, attempting
to articulate what doing science entails with the goal of informing
science policy decisions and advancing science education and public
understanding of science. The philosophical approach that I use
involves exploring the assumptions and challenges implicit in practice.
Oxford University Press recently (2009)
published my new book Everyday Practice
of Science: Where Intuition and Passion meet Objectivity and Logic.
Everyday Practice begins with the premise that although scientific
facts can be so complicated that only specialists in a field will
fully appreciate the details, the nature of everyday practice that
gives rise to these facts should be understandable by everyone interested
in science. My book describes how scientists bring their own interests
and passions to their work, illustrates the dynamics between researchers
and the research community, and emphasizes a contextual understanding
of science in place of the linear model found in textbooks with
its singular focus on "scientific method." Everyday Practice
of Science also introduces readers to issues about science and society.
Practice requires value judgments: What should be done? Who should
do it? Who should pay for it? How much? Balancing scientific opportunities
with societal needs depends on appreciating both the promises and
the ambiguities of science. Understanding practice informs discussions
about how to manage research integrity, conflict of interest, and
the challenge of modern genetics to human research ethics. Society
cannot have the benefits of research without the risks. Finally,
the last chapter contrasts the practices of science and religion
as reflective of two different types of faith and describes a holistic
framework within which they dynamically interact.